Richard Stride Commentary: Peace, Calm, Nostalgia and the Soothing Sound of a Clock


Growing up, I loved the sound of my grandpa’s mantel clock. 

It was an old Howard Miller pendulum wind-up clock. The clock key was for both the time and chimes. I can still remember the rhythmic tick-tock sound and the chimes as it announced the hour and half hour. 

Every morning before coffee, my grandpa would get up and wind the clock for the day. Sometimes, he even let me wind it. We would wind the clock and have a cup of coffee. Mine with cream and sugar, of course. Grandpa told me the coffee would grow hair on my chest. I didn’t really see much growth at 5 — but I still believed him.    

Every now and then, when I hear a clock sound, my mind returns to those wonderful childhood memories. Something about that ticking is soothing and tends to calm my sometimes restless mind. 

Growing up, my sisters and I had lots of dogs. It was exciting getting a new puppy to play with. I loved their curiosity and of course their puppy breath (I guess not everyone loves puppy breath, but I thought it was great). We weren’t allowed to sleep with the puppy in case it might pee on the floor. So, we would put the puppy in an open-lid box with a fluffy blanket. The box would be tall enough so the puppy couldn’t jump out. We would always put a wind-up clock wrapped in a towel next to the puppy.   

My mom and grandma told my sisters and I that the sound of the clock was soothing to the puppy, that it reminded them of their mother’s heartbeat. Sure enough, it would work. Our little puppy, after a full belly, would cry a little in the box but would eventually fall asleep to the sound of the ticking clock. 

So, what is it about the ticking of a clock we find comforting? I think there are several reasons. The rhythmic ticking is a reminder of predictability. The ticking sound can also be very calming.  It can slow down heart rate and breathing. It can also help clear our minds. 

For some, it’s both the sound and the nostalgia the clock invokes. It may remind us, as in my case, of our childhood, grandparents or even a simpler time. The sound can evoke a comforting feeling, especially when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. This, and many other reasons, is what I love about the older ticking clocks.

Whatever the reason is, a ticking clock can be a source of peace and comfort.   

You know what? I found one. I was thrilled, several years back, when I found an old mantel clock, close to what I remember my grandpa’s clock looking like, at a yard sale. It has a pendulum, the key, the chimes, everything I remember. It now sits on my bookshelf in my office. I can hear it from my office chair.

Old clocks are also a timeless treasure. They are works of art, pieces of history, and links to our past.    

There is no doubt that the sound of a clock can be a source of comfort and relaxation. A clock gives us a sense of order and predictability. This can be very comforting, especially in times of stress or uncertainty. 

Maybe my mom and grandma were correct. Just like the puppy, it reminds us of our own mother’s heartbeat. That’s possible, don’t you think?

If you are looking for a way to relax and destress, try listening to the sound of a clock. You may be surprised at how relaxing it can be. It may also help you fall asleep faster. 


Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at